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Old 09-27-2016, 03:57 AM   #1
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Default ITT we compare power, depowered, and manual steering racks for track use

Like the title says, a comparison of the three different options. I did a little searching and didn't come up with much of a comparison other than people deciding whether or not to keep it for autox. For my car it won't be for competitive autox, although it will get autox'd, but definitely a lot of HPDE and some street driving. I'd like to compare the pros, cons, and people's opinions on each of the options.

When I started collecting parts for my car I had originally planned on going with manual steering but switched to power steering after hearing people complain about it being so much steering effort on track that they spent more time worrying about actually turning than they did driving the car. A little background on the car; weight ratio is 2260 lb and 55% front with me in the car, currently on 245 vr-1 but I'll probably move to rc-1 after some time (no purple crack for me for a while). I have a couple extra ps racks lying around that I could easily de-power and one manual steering rack that I could switch out pretty easily. The power steering pump/bracket on the ls3 is probably close to 10 lb which is right at the front of the engine, not to mention the extra weight of fluid/rack so removing weight off the front would be good as well. After driving my 91 for so long with a manual rack, getting in the 90 with power steering just felt kinda numb and I really don't mind having a bit more of a workout for the improved steering feel.

Anyway, I'd like to see what other's opinions are for track use. Personally, I'd like to use the manual rack, convince me otherwise.
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Old 09-27-2016, 08:00 AM   #2
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I never had any issues with my FM depowered rack on track with steering. I don't think I even noticed any steering issues.
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Old 09-27-2016, 08:56 AM   #3
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I have used both racks in both autocross and track driving. The power racks are a little faster (Less turns lock to lock) and depending on how fast your hands are, can be great for autocross. For track driving, either rack will work well, but the power rack will allow for faster corrections as the rack is faster than the manual. Once you get use to driving either one, they both work.
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Old 09-27-2016, 09:00 AM   #4
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I've used every rack on track - depowered properly, depowered by removing belt and touching nothing else, manual rack, and powered rack. All non-powered versions felt great. Steering effort was never high enough to distract me.

You're probably over thinking it, especially for DE.
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Old 09-27-2016, 09:21 AM   #5
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I used a depowered rack on my '90 track car. Liked the feel better than a powered rack in an NB I drove on track recently.

Below 5mph the effort is higher, at speed it was never an issue.
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Old 09-27-2016, 11:09 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by z31maniac View Post
I used a depowered rack on my '90 track car. Liked the feel better than a powered rack in an NB I drove on track recently.

Below 5mph the effort is higher, at speed it was never an issue.
Exactly my experience. With fat, sticky tires I'd want power steering though.
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Old 09-27-2016, 11:53 AM   #7
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Hit the gym more
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Old 09-27-2016, 12:29 PM   #8
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In my opinion, the only way I'd prefer a powered rack is for less fatigue. If I was building a chump/LeMons, Lucky Dog/etc car I'd keep the power steering. But I have no regrets depowering my Miata. I so much prefer the higher effort steering on track -- just way more fun IMO. Would I be faster with power steering? Maybe. Not really interested in finding out though. it just feels so much better.
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Old 09-27-2016, 12:30 PM   #9
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Reducing caster can reduce effort at speed if that's an issue. I was just glad to remove the weight and gain the space and access. It has a lot more feel now. The extra few horsepower is just a bonus.
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Old 09-27-2016, 12:33 PM   #10
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Indeed. I had them hit my alignment specs at the least caster possible for that reason. new Miatas run 8* caster (afaik) but mine is only around 4-4.5 ish.
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Old 09-27-2016, 01:11 PM   #11
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My previous TT car was properly FM-style depowered. It was great. Literally zero downsides. With 4.5+ caster it steers fine at low speed, feels great on track.

My current PTE car came with a plugged rack, but not fully depowered. Low speed effort is too high for my liking, but I haven't been driven to drop and disassemble the rack yet.

My daily had PS and I enjoyed being able to make turns with my pinky while holding my phone, latte and cheeseburger at the same time.
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Old 09-27-2016, 01:14 PM   #12
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Probably overthinking it. Part of the reason I started really thinking about it was cause our power steering belt shredded itself on track in our lemons car (audi 90 20v) and the car went from a cruise ship going through the track to a yacht instead, it was still a boat, but at least I could feel where I was going. Seems like the only real reason to consider keeping it would be for a competetive autox car on hohos where there's a lot more low-speed maneuvers. Maybe I'll try the depowered rack and see how it is, there's certainly been times when a higher ratio would be nice.
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Old 09-27-2016, 01:21 PM   #13
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I'll be the dissenting voice here. I still have the power steering in my car, and I see no reason to take it out. The weight is minimal, the feel of the power rack is just fine, and I don't see any reason to increase the amount of physical effort that it takes to drive the car. PS makes the car faster in autox (which I used to do a lot of), and makes it easier to catch the car when it oversteers.

The PS has been rock solid reliable, I've never lost a belt, puked fluid, or had any problems with it. It's actually one of the few original components left in my engine bay at this point.

I have an NB, and I'm told there are differences in feel between it and the NA ones.

--Ian
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Old 09-27-2016, 06:22 PM   #14
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Depowered rack. No issues at autox.

2381 lbs, 5 degrees of caster and with 245 vr1s
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Old 09-28-2016, 10:29 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by codrus View Post
I'll be the dissenting voice here. I still have the power steering in my car, and I see no reason to take it out. The weight is minimal, the feel of the power rack is just fine, and I don't see any reason to increase the amount of physical effort that it takes to drive the car. PS makes the car faster in autox (which I used to do a lot of), and makes it easier to catch the car when it oversteers.

The PS has been rock solid reliable, I've never lost a belt, puked fluid, or had any problems with it. It's actually one of the few original components left in my engine bay at this point.

I have an NB, and I'm told there are differences in feel between it and the NA ones.

--Ian
I also have a '99 Emerald Mica with original power steering, and I approve this message.
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Old 09-28-2016, 12:57 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by codrus View Post
I'll be the dissenting voice here. I still have the power steering in my car, and I see no reason to take it out. The weight is minimal, the feel of the power rack is just fine, and I don't see any reason to increase the amount of physical effort that it takes to drive the car. PS makes the car faster in autox (which I used to do a lot of), and makes it easier to catch the car when it oversteers.

The PS has been rock solid reliable, I've never lost a belt, puked fluid, or had any problems with it. It's actually one of the few original components left in my engine bay at this point.

I have an NB, and I'm told there are differences in feel between it and the NA ones.

--Ian
That's interesting, I always felt I could catch the car better without ps since I had a better feel of where the car was, quick corrections would be easier with ps though. While I used to not mind it, after having a car with a manual rack it feels very numb going back to it. Also the ls3's ps pump is a little too much help for me, it does have a restriction in it but it's still quite a bit of assist. Weight is weight when it comes down to it, while I don't have a lack of horsepower I do wanna reduce the weight more since I'd like to be under 2200 with the cage and having a v8 means I'm extra sensitive to weight on the nose since enough people automatically assume it's a nose heavy pig lol

I'm thinking I might try depowering one of my spare racks this winter and see how it feels. I wish I could have a nb rack since I've heard the manual nb is much better than the na but I'd need to buy a new subframe and those aren't very cheap.
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Old 09-28-2016, 01:12 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by turbofan View Post
In my opinion, the only way I'd prefer a powered rack is for less fatigue. If I was building a chump/LeMons, Lucky Dog/etc car I'd keep the power steering. But I have no regrets depowering my Miata. I so much prefer the higher effort steering on track -- just way more fun IMO. Would I be faster with power steering? Maybe. Not really interested in finding out though. it just feels so much better.
It is not that fatiguing to run a true depowered rack on a budget enduro car. We just finished up a race at Sebring (think bumpy, then add a factor of 2) in our '94 with a depowered (welded pinion) rack and after 3.5 hours of seat time, my legs were sore, but my arms and shoulders were fine. This is with 225 RS3's. Also, the power steering adds another point of failure for the car, so it was tossed long ago. Also, I'm the least in shape member of the team, well unless you count round a shape.
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Old 09-28-2016, 01:16 PM   #18
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Hit the gym more
This. I'm 5'6", 145lbs and have no problems with a lazily depowered rack on 205 SM7s.
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Old 09-28-2016, 01:25 PM   #19
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This. I'm 5'6", 145lbs and have no problems with a lazily depowered rack on 205 SM7s.
We're the same dimensions, a little arm workout once in a while couldn't hurt for me
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Old 09-28-2016, 01:33 PM   #20
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The only time that having my depowered rack is annoying is when going 1mph in a parking lot. Once you have any sort of speed it becomes a non-issue. The big reason I got rid of PS originally was I had already pulled AC and wanted to clean up my engine bay. Also certain turbo manifolds are not PS compatible, so that could be another reason to pull it.
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